Chef Paul is an elite chef who runs a luxury team of chefs catering to the people at the top of the socioeconomic hierarchy of Bangkok. The character is played by Nopachai Jayanama.
Chef Paul is a brilliant yet occasionally ruthless chef who runs ‘Hunger’, an exclusive fine dining experience meant only for those who can afford it. He is meticulous about his process and doesn’t appreciate mediocrity or incompetence.
There are multiple moments in the film where Paul shows how vicious he can be and he also exhibits an arrogance that has developed along his journey to becoming the most sought-after chef in the country.
A hard taskmaster
Right from the off, Chef Paul showcases that he is very particular about the way things function in his kitchen and he’s even specific about the way his food is to be eaten.
He enters his kitchen at the same time every day and his team must finish their prep before he steps in. During an event, he asks his customers to eat with their hands and then insists they include the sauce to properly enjoy the bite.
He doesn’t taste the food during the tryout but knows through observation and smell that Aoy’s fried rice is the better of the two and when the other trialist makes a fuss, he slaps him and sends him home in disgrace.
Despite acknowledging that Aoy is a talented cook, he is extremely harsh with her on her first day and pushes her to spend all day and night perfecting the technique he wanted.
Even after doing a good job, he relegates her to kitchen duty and then reminds her that she isn’t special yet and must work towards it. When one of the other chefs is smoking in the kitchen, he makes it a point to humiliate him and ensure he doesn’t do it again.
A driving emotion
When he finds out that his sous chef tried to sabotage one of his meals, he accuses him of being jealous and the sous chef stabs Chef Paul in retaliation.
He’s taken to the hospital and Aoy learns that he has no other family to care for him. She decides to make a family dish for him and visits him at the hospital one day.
Aoy tells him that the dish is made with love which is why it tastes so good but Paul says that love has nothing to do with cooking in his opinion. It’s not a strong enough emotion to drive someone to excellence.
When Aoy asks him what his inspiration was, he says that it was a jar of caviar. His mother was a maid at a rich family’s house and he always wondered what the tiny black balls were.
He took the jar out one day and the employer’s son saw him and told him to put it back. He got scared and dropped the jar, forcing his mother to work off the cost of that jar for a long time.
While cleaning it up, he tasted the caviar and realized that it wasn’t all that great. That experience is what put the idea of becoming a chef in his mind so that he could command the attention of the rich people that once lorded over him.
An end to his era
Chef Paul agrees to cook an exotic hornbill shot down by one of his clients and Aoy disagrees with this. She quits and moves on to lead her own team.
He visits her one day and tells her that she’s losing everything that was close to her in her quest to the top, exactly like he did. He warns her that it’s only the beginning of things.
At the socialite’s party, Chef Paul goes head to head with Aoy and after seemingly triumphing over her, he lets her know that prejudice is a big factor in fine dining so no matter how well she does, people will flock to him because of his name.
His bragging is interrupted when his illegal actions come to light and the police take him in for questioning. He remains defiant and claims that this is just a blip that will bring him even more attention in the future.